Craig Breen Deserves Full Time WRC Seat - Yves Matton

Citroen WRC team boss Yves Matton said that after Craig Breen's solid performance in Rally Finland, he deserves full time WRC drive next season. He also mentioned that, he cannot guarantee that he will drive for Citroen next year. Only in his third WRC start with PH-Sport, Breen achieved his career best result in Finland last weekend.


Breen has been sharing his WRC seat with Stephane Lefebvre this year, alongside Kris Meeke who has already confirmed for 2017. Although Matton praised the Irish driver, he said he was just among ten other drivers shortlisted by Citroen. He said, "I expected him to be fast after what he showed in Poland, but what I was also pleased with is the consistency he showed. Next year, there will be 15 seats [in factory World Rally Cars]. Before the start of this year there were not 15 drivers at the right level. He can be one of the 15. He can expect to be in one of those cars. But for us, I didn't make any decision. The drivers are happy to wait. By the end of the month, I want to have the list of 10 down to four or five. There is a lot to think about and the first thing I have to decide on is the strategy for next year. When I know that then I can try to put the drivers in there."

Craig Breen
Commenting on this Craig Breen said he was 'honoured and pleased' with Matton's words and hoped he would not have to look anywhere else for WRC drive. He said, "I just really want to stay where I am. I absolutely love where I am. I know it's a private team this season, but I love working with the factory on the new car - everything fits me like a glove now."




Currently only six drivers have confirmed their 2017 WRC seat. Volkswagen have opted for the unchanged team of Sebastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen. Citroen already signed up Kris Meeke. Kiwi driver Hayden Paddon has extended his contract with Hyundai. Eric Camilli has a long term partnership with M-Sport. That means along with Breen and Lefebvre, M-Sport driver Mads Ostberg, Hyundai drivers Thierry Neuville, Dani Sordo and Kevin Abbring are all open to negotiation. Ott Tanak may also get a factory seat after his recent form. 

Leading WRC 2 drivers Elfyn Evans, Esapekka Lappi, Pontus Tidemand and Teemu Suninen are all eyeing to enter the top tier of rallying. Juho Hanninen has been confirmed to continue with Toyota for 2017 season.

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Toyota On The Verge Of Announcing Its Driver Lineup

Toyota WRC team boss Tommi Makinen has revealed his driver 'Options' for 2017 WRC season. Toyota has eyed on Ott Tanak and leading WRC 2 drivers for the seat in Toyota WRC team. The decision on the driver lineup is said to be made after conclusion of Rally Germany later this month, after Makinen talks with the Toyota factory in Japan.


DMACK WRC team driver Ott Tanak has impressed everybody by his recent pace. Makinen;s main target is the Estonian driver. Tanak's former M-Sport team-mate now WRC 2 championship leader Elfyn Evans is Makine's next priority. Also Teemu Suninen and factory Skoda WRC 2 drivers Esapekka Lappi and Pontus Tidemand are also on Makinen's list.

Speaking about this Makinen said, "I can tell you the names: there is Elfyn, there's Ott Tanak, Esapekka Lappi, Teemu Suninen and the young comer is Pontus Tidemand. The plan is not decided yet, we will discuss it with Japan. The question for the drivers is how we see the world: are we looking to 2017 or are we looking to the future? This is the area we will discuss very carefully with Japan and make a decision together."

Former Hyundai driver Juho Hanninen has been an integral part of Toyota in developing the new Yaris WRC. He is likely to be with the team. Makinen further added, "For learning and analysing every single rally, Juho would be good. He knows the car technically very well, he has done the whole test programme and that could help us be more ready for 2018."

Mikko Hirvonen will be testing the Yaris WRC this week. Makinen also clarified that Hirvonen will not be competing in WRC, who is now focused on cross-country events. Toyota will be starting the season with two cars and then will be adding another mid-season. On asked about this he said, "The infrastructure is there to run a three-car team, but we know it's pretty big work to build and run three cars from the start. I say it's easier to start with two and bring the third car after a couple of rallies." He also said that 2017 will be developing season for Toyota and their not expecting strong results. "The 2017 season is the year first to learn and analyse the rallies. I would like to say we would be ready to fight and to win in 2018. he target for next year? Of course we'd like to see the podium very soon." said Makinen.

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M-Sport Begins Testing 2017 Fiesta WRC Prototype

M-Sport has started testing its 2017 WRC machine. Currently running the prototype version of Fiesta WRC, the new machine is running on 2017 engine and mechanical parts such as suspension, drivetrain and transmission. The new aero upgrades will follow in the upcoming tests. On the exterior the only change that can be noticed is, mock-up rear diffuser to replicate the new chassis.


M-Sport team principal Malcom Wilson himself was behind the wheel for the first test at M-Sports's Greystroke forest facility. After the tests Wilson said, "I'm very, very excited by what I found with the car. I've tended to drive most of our new cars, just to get a feeling for what they're doing. From that test, I would know if there was something wrong and there's nobody who can put more pressure on the guys to put it right."

The actual 2017 car's debut is said to be in September for Europe tests. Ford is yet to confirm the launch date of the road going version of the car on which the 2017 machine is based. Wilson's son Matthew Wilson will be testing the car for four days a week, running for three weeks. 

Malcom Wilson further said, "It's going to be a very expensive car [to develop and build], but it's beautiful. There's so much workmanship in it, it looks absolutely lovely. The guys have taken a really big step with this car. There's nothing wrong with the current car, but there have been areas to improve on and we've done that and more with this one. We've been doing some endurance running in Greystoke, but we're also doing set-up work while also building a bank of data."

Fiesta is the last out of five 2017 WRC machines to hit the rally stages. VW has already been testing the Polo WRC since a year, Citroen has begun its C3 development from April. Also Toyota Yaris WRC has been recently tested. Hyundai is also testing the three door mule car.

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Volkswagen Would Back Indian WRC Round- Jost Capito

Volkswagen WRC team boss Jost Capito said that, the German car maker will support the bid to host a WRC round in India. He says having a WRC round in India, which has a vast automobile market will only do good for the sport. Capito will be quitting the German WRC squad and join McLaren F1 Team this year.


Speaking to Press Trust of India, Capito said, "India is one of the upcoming and emergent markets and it’s really valid to have rallies in important markets and emergent markets. We would be very supportive of having a rally in India. That’s for sure. We work with Volkswagen India, we support them in development of cars. They have a rally program. We are in regular contact with VW Motorsport India to support them and also to get program approved."

During the FIA president Jean Todt's visit to India, he stated that India has the potential to host a international rally. Currently India will be hosting the final round of Asia Pacific Rally Championship, Rally Of India in Chikmagalur.

When asked about the lack of Indian drivers in the top tier of rallying and would VW give opportunity to one, Capito said they don't have a drivers programme. He further added, "It is difficult for us because we only have the WRC programme. The drivers have to come through [on their own]. We are in contact with VW India. They see and give us information what the drivers are [doing], so as soon as somebody come through, of course will get the chance. As manufacturers we have three cars and we have to take three best. We have to get best possible drivers.You have to be in position to win rallies, otherwise we can’t win the championships."

For many years Gaurav Gill was said to be making it to WRC, but lack of budget is barring him from doing so. Pune based, Sanjay Takale, who is competing in APRC, is also planning to make it to WRC in 2017. Kolkata driver Amittrajit Ghosh, who recently competed in BRC has also eyed a WRC or ERC programme in near future.

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Latvala Was Too Cautious In Finland

Volkswagen WRC driver Jari-Matti Latvala said that he was too cautious and lacked fighting spirit to go for the victory in his home rally. As Kris Meeke barred him from what would have been his third Rally Finland victory in a row. Latvala has won his home rally in 2010 and 2014-2015 as well, but this time he was just satisfied with the runner-up spot.


Latvala made a mistake and damaged his tyre and dropped to fifth in fourth stage of the rally. but another reason for his lack of pace was after Sebastien Ogier's crash it was all up to him to score for the German squad. Latvala said, "Somehow I didn't have the same fighting spirit that I have had in the last two years. In the beginning on Friday I had it but then I made a mistake quite early on and I lost 15 seconds. I tried and tried but then I think things changed on Friday evening when Sebastien Ogier went off. It put me in a bit of a different position. After that it was difficult to find that last bit for the driving, I was maybe a bit too much on the safe side."

Latvala also had the pressure of manufactures standings, as Citroen is only competing partially. So it was important to bring the car home safely without any hassles. Latvala further said, "Because the situation is that Citroen is not committed to the World Rally Championship, when I climbed up to second position I was actually getting the first manufacturer points and the team really needs these points. Also, in the drivers' championship I was calculating that now we can also catch Ogier so I can't afford to do a mistake. Having this in my head was maybe making me a little bit too much on the safe side on Saturday and then also on Sunday."

Latvala is currently third in the drivers championship after Rally Finland, but still trails by 56 points to Ogier. In manufacturers championship VW leads by 52 points over Hyundai. Kris Meeke stamped his authority on the rally after he took 13 seconds from Latvala in the legendary Ouninpohja stage. Speaking about that Latvala said, "On Saturday morning after the first time on Ouninpohja we realised there was no chance anymore to catch Kris. Kris and [co-driver] Paul [Nagle] did a superb drive, they really, really deserve it."

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Kris Meeke Wins Finnish Gravel GP, First British To Win In Finland

Kris Meeke has won Neste Oil Rally Finland and creates history by becoming first British driver to win in the country of thousand lakes. Adding icing to the cake, fellow Citroen driver Craig Breen finished third after fierce battle with Ott Tanak, Breen was really emotional after the finish and remembered his former co-driver Gareth Roberts, who died in a crash in 2011. Finnish hot favorite Jari-Matti Latvala finished runner-up this time breaking his home win streak.


Kris Meeke who already had a comfortable lead after Friday, took a big step towards victory by winning the mighty Ouninpohja stage and that too by 13.4 seconds. After the Saturday morning loop he took it cool and calm and extended his lead to 41 seconds by end of Saturday. Finally today Meeke just focused on bringing the car home safely and eventually won by 29.1 seconds. After Saturdays morning loop Latavala was settled for runner-up spot. As he had no answer for Meeke's pace. The mistake he committed on special stage four might have cost him the victory. VW pilot finished second, bringing his home rally winning streak to an end. 

Irishman Craig Breen finished in an impressive third in his fourth WRC start. But it was not that easy for him. Ott Tanak was right behind him and was gaining ground on Breen. But Estonian pushed too hard and crashed out on Oittila test. But Breen could'nt ease off as Thierry Neuville was in a catching distance. but Breen was fastest in special stage 23 and finally finished just 4.6 seconds ahead of Neuville. Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville finished fourth and won power stage as well. His team mate Hayden Paddon was fifth just 2.3 seconds behind Neuville. M-Sport driver Mads Ostberg once again was not up to the task and finished in sixth. Andreas Mikkelsen suffered from his road position and could only manage seventh. Leading WRC 2 driver Finn Esapekka Lappi finished in eight place. Kevin Abbring and Teemu Suninen rounded off the top ten finishers.

WRC 2 victory went to Finnish young talent Esapekka Lappi. Another Finn Teemu Suninen finished second in his Fabia R5. Elfyn Evans was in third two minutes away from leader. JWRC victory went to Norwegian driver Ole Christian Veiby in his Citroen DS3 R3T Max. Max Vatanen took victory in Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy in his Ford Fiesta R2.

                                 Overall Final Classification
Pos.No.
Driver / Co-driver
Vehicle
Pos.SS time
Penalty
Total timeDiff.Leader
Diff.Prev.
17
GBR

1
Meeke Kris / Nagle Paul 
Citroën DS3 WRC 
RC1
1
02:38:05.802:38:05.800:00:00.0
00:00:00.0
22
FIN

2
Latvala J. / Anttila Miikka 
Volkswagen Polo R WRC 
RC1
2
02:38:34.902:38:34.900:00:29.1
00:00:29.1
38
IRL

3
Breen Craig / Martin Scott 
Citroën DS3 WRC 
RC1
3
02:39:47.102:39:47.100:01:41.3
00:01:12.2
43
BEL

4
Neuville T. / Gilsoul Nicolas 
Hyundai i20 WRC 
RC1
4
02:39:51.702:39:51.700:01:45.9
00:00:04.6
54
NZL

5
Paddon Hayden / Kennard John 
Hyundai i20 WRC 
RC1
5
02:39:54.002:39:54.000:01:48.2
00:00:02.3
65
NOR

6
Østberg Mads / Fløene Ola 
Ford Fiesta RS WRC 
RC1
6
02:40:10.402:40:10.400:02:04.6
00:00:16.4
79
NOR

7
Mikkelsen A. / Jæger Anders 
Volkswagen Polo R WRC 
RC1
7
02:40:28.202:40:28.200:02:22.4
00:00:17.8
835
FIN

8
Lappi Esapekka / Ferm Janne 
Škoda Fabia R5 
RC2
1
02:42:59.602:42:59.600:04:53.8
00:02:31.4
920
NLD

9
Abbring Kevin / Marshall S. 
Hyundai i20 WRC 
RC1
8
02:43:28.202:43:28.200:05:22.4
00:00:28.6
1032
FIN

10
Suninen Teemu / Markkula Mikko 
Škoda Fabia R5 
RC2
2
02:43:41.302:43:41.300:05:35.5
00:00:13.1

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What's Happening Behind The Dust Of 2017 World Rally Cars

With the new regulation come into effect from 2017, new cars will hit the stages. Yes it is exciting for the sport. But the question is, where does the current WRC cars stand. And what about the private drivers, as they will be not driving the modern machines as factory drivers.


FIA has already confirmed that only works team drivers will be allowed to drive the 2017 world rally cars, that too after the approval by the FIA itself. Also FIA has mentioned that there will be no separate championship for private drivers who are driving current generation cars. As it will effect the WRC 2 category. Putting some light into this matter, FIA rally director Jarmo Mahonen said, "We want to encourage the private drivers to come in the current cars. But at the same time we have to be careful not to screw the R5 competition, which has been really good. We are still talking about this one and we're going to find a solution, but it's out of the question to make another FIA title for another championship."

Mahonen also said that currently FIA cant stop drivers from entering in 2016 world rally cars. He added, "It's good to have them with us. What we won't do is we won't give them a passport to continue the homologation beyond the next two years - that's when the current cars will reach the end of their life cycle. Driving the current cars does make sense for those drivers looking to make the step to a 2017 car."

This decision of FIA has left some private teams unhappy. Quirin Muller, team manager of Jipocar Czech National which runs Martin Prokop's WRC campaign said, "We have been waiting for four seasons for the privateers' championship which is promised every year to come for the next season." Rich Millener, chief of M-Sport customer programme also stressed that there is a need of series as WRC 2 for drivers making it to modern WRC. He said, "There are guys out there who don't want to drive R5 cars and we have to consider these true privateers who want to stay in a 2016 World Rally Car, At the same time, it's important that we keep the current cars there to bridge the gap between R5 and the 2017 cars. The [performance] gap between R5 and a current World Rally Car is big, but the gap to next year's cars will be even bigger."

Coming to the junior series, that is beneath WRC 2 class. There are speculations about ERC to take charge of junior series from next season. As the current JWRC deal with Citroen will come to an end this year. There is also a possibility of re branding the current Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy as JWRC. Mahonen said, "It's no secret that we have had meetings with Eurosport and running a [single] junior series with ERC is possible. Right now the Junior WRC is too expensive and the R2 cars are perfect."

ERC co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley is certain that his junior class series will be perfect for next season. He said, "We have a constant and ongoing dialogue with the FIA about the overall training of young drivers from regional to WRC level, seeing as everyone seems to reckon that the current system of career progression could be improved. In the last two years, 81 drivers have appeared in the three international junior series but only two drivers have made it all the way to factory [WRC] cars: Stephane Lefebvre and Eric Camilli. Of the three, ERC Junior series is the strongest and has the highest profile."

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WRC Rally Finland - Kris Meeke Leads Finnish Roller Coaster Ahead Of Latvala

Kris Meeke leads Neste Oil Rally Finland after end of day two. He holds 18.1 seconds lead over Finnish favorite Jari-Matti Latvala. It seems like VW boss Jost Capitos's predictions were right. Meeke made utmost use of his road position and kept up the pace whole day to challenge the VW Polo's. Latvala tried to catch him, but Meeke was up to the task. Sebastien Ogier had a rare off road incident by going into a ditch in a hairpin. 


Finnish gravel GP got underway with a short special stage Harju. Ott Tanak and Andreas Mikkelsen were joint fastest. Tanak made it clear that he would push hard as hell. Day two of Rally Finland was a busy day, with eleven special stages to run. Meeke was fast from the first stage itself, he was battling with Ott Tanak for stage wins. Unfortunately Tanak broke the suspension of his Fiesta WRC. By midday service Meeke was leading by 18.8 seconds. Latavala too had his share of incidents. In special stage four he suffered a puncture and had some cosmetic damage to his Polo, but he lost only 16 seconds, and was back on pace in second position.

In the afternoon loop Tanak again began his assault. Won two stages, but again luck was not with him. Had a puncture in special stage 10. Meeke never faced any major issue and was posting consistent top stage times. By the end of day he was leading by 18.1 seconds. Latvala got his confidence back, but could not match Meeke's pace. Second after day two. Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville was in third after a good day. VW pilot Mikkelsen was just 1.1 seconds behind Neuville in fourth. Craig Breen is in fourth overall, he admitted that lack of experience in a world rally car barred his pace. Hayden Paddon holds fifth just 4.4 seconds behind Breen. M-Sport driver Mads Ostberg is in seventh, Ott Tanak in eight after he suffered problems. Eric Camilli and WRC 2 driver Esapekka Lappi rounded off the top ten after day two.

Another major incident was, Ogier went off the road. He spun out in  a hairpin and his Polo got stuck in a ditch. It took 16 minutes to get going. Ogier said it was a 'stupid' mistake. Currently he is 53rd overall.

                                     Overall Classification
Pos.No.
Driver / Co-driver
Vehicle
Pos.SS time
Penalty
Total timeDiff.Leader
Diff.Prev.
17
GBR

1
Meeke Kris / Nagle Paul 
Citroën DS3 WRC 
RC1
1
01:13:22.201:13:22.200:00:00.0
00:00:00.0
22
FIN

2
Latvala J. / Anttila Miikka 
Volkswagen Polo R WRC 
RC1
2
01:13:40.301:13:40.300:00:18.1
00:00:18.1
33
BEL

3
Neuville T. / Gilsoul Nicolas 
Hyundai i20 WRC 
RC1
3
01:14:06.501:14:06.500:00:44.3
00:00:26.2
49
NOR

4
Mikkelsen A. / Jæger Anders 
Volkswagen Polo R WRC 
RC1
4
01:14:07.601:14:07.600:00:45.4
00:00:01.1
58
IRL

5
Breen Craig / Martin Scott 
Citroën DS3 WRC 
RC1
5
01:14:16.001:14:16.000:00:53.8
00:00:08.4
64
NZL

6
Paddon Hayden / Kennard John 
Hyundai i20 WRC 
RC1
6
01:14:20.401:14:20.400:00:58.2
00:00:04.4
75
NOR

7
Østberg Mads / Fløene Ola 
Ford Fiesta RS WRC 
RC1
7
01:14:25.101:14:25.100:01:02.9
00:00:04.7
812
EST

8
Tänak Ott / Mõlder Raigo 
Ford Fiesta RS WRC 
RC1
8
01:14:36.601:14:36.600:01:14.4
00:00:11.5
96
FRA

9
Camilli Eric / Veillas B. 
Ford Fiesta RS WRC 
RC1
9
01:14:44.801:14:44.800:01:22.6
00:00:08.2
1035
FIN

10
Lappi Esapekka / Ferm Janne 
Škoda Fabia R5 
RC2
1
01:15:24.001:15:24.000:02:01.8
00:00:39.2

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